New quiet hours are being introduced at Festival Place in Basingstoke as part of its commitment to make shopping and dining out more accessible for customers with special sensory needs.
Loud music, fluorescent lights and crowds of people can all be an overwhelming sensory experience, so the shopping centre will be creating a more relaxed environment for visitors by turning off its mall music between 4pm and 7pm on Wednesdays and 9 and 11am on Saturdays.
Participating retailers will also be turning off music in stores.
As part of its ongoing commitment to supporting those with extra needs and disabilities, the shopping centre and leisure destination has already introduced special training for its customer services team, and has partnered with Dove House Post 16 in Basingstoke to run a supported internship programme for young people and adults with learning difficulties.
Festival Place has pledged to introduce several initiatives – including quiet hours – as part of Purple Tuesday, which is an international call for organisations to take practical actions to improve customer experiences for disabled people.
Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “Making Festival Place as inclusive and accessible as possible is extremely important to us.
“Our new quiet hours will provide a break from the sensory overload a busy shopping centre can generate for those customers who find it overwhelming.
“We will be turning off our mall music, and our participating retailers will be helping to reinforce the quiet, relaxed environment.
“We hope that through our collective efforts, those quiet hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays will both provide respite for those affected, and also help others understand the difficulties faced by people with sensory conditions.”
The National Autistic Society organised the UK’s first nationwide ‘quiet hour’ following research that showed 64 per cent of people with autism and their families avoided going into shops.
Purple Tuesday was set up in 2018 to ask retailers to make decisive, practical actions to meet the needs of disabled customers. Participants are asked to do what they can year-round, and the annual Purple Tuesday gives them a chance to showcase their actions and raise awareness – this year’s Purple Tuesday will be on November 12.
Find out more about Accessibility at Festival Place here.